There is no escaping the fact that TikTok is everywhere! Recently reaching 1 billion users on the platform, there are literally now billions of eyeballs ready to absorb whatever the algorithm throws at them. That should make any marketeer sit up and take note. Traditionally, high-fashion brands are usually – ironically – fashionably late to the party when it comes to marketing advancements. Traditional marketing channels such as magazine and print is still where high-end fashion brands spend heavily, but brands such as Alexander McQueen and Zadig & Voltaire have identified the opportunity of a trend-driven platform such as TikTok, and more brands have followed in building a presence on the short-form video app.
TikTok x A-List Events
If you want your first example of how TikTok has influenced fashion, look no further than the Met Gala’s 2021 guest list. Amongst the sea of A-listers at arguably the most prodigious fashion event of the year, TikTok stars Addison Rae, Dixie D’Amelio and Emma Chamberlain emerged. Addison has over 84 million followers on TikTok and was invited by Gucci to attend the event. Likewise, Dixie has 55 million followers and was taken along by Valentino. Emma originated on YouTube but has amassed a 10m following across TikTok. She was invited by Louis Vuitton, for whom she has been an ambassador for the last few years. Emma was also invited by Vogue to be their resident interviewer, chatting with the stars as they made their way into the event. The Met Gala has a long-standing tradition of exclusivity, with only the best of the best getting a look in. The idea that TikTok stars are now embraced into this event with open arms showcases the extraordinary impact of TikTok on the fashion industry.
Alongside this, TikTok stars are being invited to shows taking place during the various fashion weeks held around the world. Prada invited Charlie D’Amelio, Emma’s ambassadorship meant she was front row at Louis Vuitton, Noah Beck was invited to watch Moschino and Thom Browne, alongside Lil Huddy… the list is endless. Some additional brands inviting TikTok stars included Coach, Peter Do, Proenza Schouler and Staud.
TikTok Makes Models
Not only are TikTok creators getting invited to exclusive fashion events, but they are also being tapped up to become models. Neon Eubanks was scouted to be the face of Celine from TikTok in 2019. He has since done several campaigns with the brand. Other stars from the platform, Wisdom Kaye and Kennedy Jardin, were also scouted and snapped up by agencies. Modelling agencies have embraced TikTok with open arms, with IMG models commenting that “unlike other social media platforms, a lot of the content remains unfiltered or unedited. That, coupled with a predominantly video-based format, allows us to quickly get a glimpse of someone’s personality, how they interact with others, and what their interests and values are within seconds…With TikTok, not only are we able to scout every corner of the globe from the comfort of our own homes, but we are tapping into exciting talent pools in new and interesting ways.”
Storm models went one step further and created a hashtag alongside Rimmel London, encouraging potential talent to make themselves known using #DiscoverMe.
Behind The Scenes and Fashion Runways Dominating TikTok
High-end fashion brands are also utilising TikTok to live stream their campaigns – changing the face of the runway, opening up new elements of creativity and publicizing events that are usually for VIPs. Prada, Louis Vuitton, Balmain, Chanel and Saint Laurent have all live streamed their shows on TikTok for the last two years, with more high-fashion brands jumping on the bandwagon every season. In 2020, TikTok announced that these live streams amassed over 3 million views. This figure is set to further sore as this year Louis Vuitton’s SS22 collection had 130 million views on Weibo from that single show alone. If this is the level of exposure these high-fashion brands can look to achieve, TikTok is bound to see more brands in this industry piggy backing the idea.
Designers of these fashion houses are also capitalizing on TikTok. Simon Porte Jacquemus, the founder of the ‘must-have’ Jacquemus, uses TikTok to publicize runways, shoots and his Vogue interviews. He ensures all creative fits into the dreamy, beachy esthetic that mirrors his brand. Olivier Rousteing is a frequent TikTok user, showcasing his creative process, but also including personal content so fans can catch a glimpse into the life of a designer. Brands that do not have creatives taking center stage are also ensuring they include their creative process across brand channels, shown most prominently by Gucci.
Gucci & J W Anderson: Making a True Impact on TikTok
Brands making the real splash on TikTok are those engaging and embracing TikTok trends. Gucci has paved the way on this – reacting and reposting content from the #GucciModelChallenge, which has 269 million views to date. They are also opening two-way conversations with their fans via interesting and quirky videos. Those of note are the #GucciGift campaign, where models were dancing by desks at retro office parties and its #AccidentalInfluencer campaign which attracted 2.5m views. J W Anderson shot into the limelight after Harry Styles wore their patchwork cardigan. Jumping on this, the brand created a tutorial on how to crochet the piece at home on TikTok, which during the pandemic became a viral success.
Why Does High Fashion Care About TikTok?
But why bother? High-end fashion brands surely don’t have the typically Gen Z TikTok user buying their luxury goods? Well in the short term, I think the answer is two-fold. TikTok gives these brands a new platform to exercise creativity to the masses, but still in a way that maintains their authenticity. Equally, people now want inclusivity – something high-fashion is notorious for being the opposite of. TikTok gives them a way of tapping into that inclusivity, it gives access to ordinary people in a way that was never given before and through virality, gives people, in theory, the opportunity to be involved and recognized in fashion. In short, a regular consumer could have the opportunity to be recognized by the high-flyers of the fashion industry. The nod to inclusivity helps them build a relationship with the ever-changing attitudes of its future consumers.
Investing in building a relationship with Gen Z now is a calculated move for long-term success. As younger consumers move closer to becoming the largest generation of consumers, they will soon hold the spending power. By brands starting early, building brand affinity and aligning with the values of this generation, this will translate into sales as consumers mature and move into a position with more disposable income. This is the key for any luxury brand to have longevity in the market!
This doesn’t just translate across TikTok, however. High-end fashion is securing a spot across every corner of cutting-edge trends. Over on Snapchat, Prada and Farfetch have been trying their hand at the new AR filters. The new Snapchat tech allows consumers to try on any item of clothing or accessories with a touch of a button – providing brands with the opportunity to generate excitement, increase engagement and drive revenue with online-centric shoppers. Balenciaga went big in the gaming sphere, dropping their latest garments into the Fortnite meta sphere. Not only can you purchase Fortnite x Balenciaga IRL, but four of the fan favorite characters in the game are also decked out too. Balenciaga is a brand that prides itself on its innovative ethos, so it’s unsurprising that this also translates into its choice of partnerships. High-fashion brands are making their voices known and carving their place amongst the highly influential and notoriously difficult Gen Z audience.
Like it or not, TikTok is changing the face of not just fashion, but almost every industry there is. High-end fashion refuses to be left behind. These brands continue to push boundaries and seek relevance whether through Tiktok trends or beyond – like Balenciaga’s Fornite collaboration or Balmain’s new TV series Fracture.